AWS Elemental MediaTailor FAQs

What is AWS Elemental MediaTailor?

AWS Elemental MediaTailor is a channel assembly and personalized ad insertion service that lets video providers create live OTT (internet delivered) channels using existing video content and monetize those channels, or other live streams and VOD content, with personalized advertising. Live streams maintain a TV-like experience across multiscreen video applications. With MediaTailor, virtual live channels are created without the expense, complexity, and management of real-time live encoding. Adverts are seamlessly stitched into the content and can be tailored to individual viewers, maximizing the monetization opportunity for every ad break and mitigating ad blocking schemes.

Who can use AWS Elemental MediaTailor?

AWS Elemental MediaTailor is designed to meet the needs of all types of video providers. Video is increasingly important to companies from small businesses to global enterprises, as well as government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and schools, all of which can use AWS Elemental MediaTailor to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their video operations. Companies in the media and entertainment industry, including film and TV studios, broadcast networks, pay TV channels and system operators, programming distributors, internet service providers, online video platforms, and professional sports leagues and teams, can all benefit from AWS Elemental MediaTailor as part of their broadcast, streaming, and over-the-top video offerings.

Why should I use AWS Elemental MediaTailor Channel Assembly?

With Channel Assembly, you can create linear channels that are delivered over-the-top (OTT) in a cost-efficient way, even for channels with low viewership. Virtual live streams are created with a low running cost by using existing multi-bitrate encoded and packaged VOD content. You can also easily monetize Channel Assembly linear streams by inserting ad breaks in your programs without having to condition the content with SCTE-35 markers.

Why should I use AWS Elemental MediaTailor ad insertion over other server-side ad insertion solutions?

Other server-side ad insertion solutions typically do not provide detailed client-side viewing metrics. Server-side solutions generally report on CDN server logs of requests to ad server, which doesn’t offer the granularity of client-based viewing metrics that advertisers require. Other solutions may require SDK or specific player integration to handle server-side stitched manifests. In contrast, AWS Elemental MediaTailor does not require specific player or SDK integration to work. In addition, AWS Elemental MediaTailor makes callbacks to a common endpoint for both content and ads rather than known ad serving entities, bypassing ad blocking strategies.

AWS Elemental MediaTailor uses client request information in real-time to communicate with ad decision servers and dynamically generates personalized manifests and ad content. And with AWS Elemental MediaTailor, there is no need for customers to scale origin infrastructure to cope with delivering personalized manifests.

Why should I use AWS Elemental MediaTailor ad insertion over other client-side ad insertion solutions?

Client-side ad insertion solutions are susceptible to ad blocking and can deliver poor playback quality. As most client-side ad blockers work by blacklisting known ad serving domain names, video clients can end up skipping ad segments entirely, jeopardizing business models that rely on ad revenue from internet-delivered video offerings. AWS Elemental MediaTailor delivers ads in a way that makes ads indistinguishable from content for a seamless viewing experience.

Video providers want viewers to experience the same playback quality as traditional broadcast TV. However, since ads are served by external ad decision services with their own encoders, video processing pipeline, and CDN, it’s impossible for client-side ad insertion solutions to ensure ads match the format of the content. This results in increased rebuffer rates and discontinuous transitions from content to ads and back as clients retrieve ads on a best-effort basis.

In other cases, customers wish to ensure that advertisements are compliant with the latest technology regulations such as audio loudness levels. Providers try to solve these issues by preprocessing and preloading ads while working with numerous ad decision services or directly with advertisers, resulting in scaling challenges as the number of ad decision servers and permutations of ad formats increases. AWS Elemental MediaTailor overcomes each of these challenges by pulling down mezzanine-quality assets from ad decision servers and transcoding assets on the fly to the same specifications as the primary content stream. As a result, viewers enjoy the same seamless experience from internet-delivered video as traditional broadcast TV.

How does AWS Elemental MediaTailor simplify my advertising workflow?

Since the same video processing pipeline is used for content and for ads, there is no need to orchestrate complicated ad signaling between the origin server, manifest manipulation service, and ad decision server. In the past, customers had to implement client library changes across all of their supported devices as new video formats, ad insertion specs, or compliance standards emerged. With AWS Elemental MediaTailor, customers can use the same ad insertion workflow to reach all devices, eliminating the need to make custom changes across all client applications to account for new standards.

How does AWS Elemental MediaTailor enable content personalization?

Video content publishers have more information in OTT environments about their end viewers' demographic profile, viewing habits, and other relevant data than traditional broadcast TV. This allows for increased rates for advertising spots. However, traditional server-side ad insertion solutions don’t typically communicate with and use client device information when stitching together ads and content, for two reasons: one, they rely on proprietary extensions to pass through client information to ad servers, resulting in communications failures between different implementations and services, and two, ad personalization not only decreases the ability to cache the manifest file, but also greatly increases compute resources required for rewriting manifest files and transcoding unique ad content on-the-fly. Unlike those solutions, AWS Elemental MediaTailor uses the VAST standard when interfacing with external ad servers, while scaling compute resources for manifest manipulation, transcoding, and delivery occurs automatically using the elastic AWS Cloud.

How does AWS Elemental MediaTailor enable accurate reporting of viewing behavior across devices?

Both advertisers and the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) call for granular playback metrics that are measured from end-viewer devices. This requires clients to make numerous HTTP requests to tracking URLs managed by external ad servers as ads are played back. This beacon information allows impressions to be rewarded based on quartile (25 percent, 50 percent, 75 percent) of an ad video that has been played.

By default, AWS Elemental MediaTailor reports these metrics from the server-side without additional integration efforts required. AWS Elemental MediaTailor also provides a client API endpoint to identify when ad content is playing and can be used to implement client-side ad reporting as well as advanced player features to stop scrubbing during ad break, or ad duration countdowns.

How does AWS Elemental MediaTailor improve my viewers’ experience when watching my content?

AWS Elemental MediaTailor has a transcode service that works to ensure there are no jarring discontinuities in aspect ratio, resolutions, and video bitrate for transitions between ads and content during playback. AWS Elemental MediaTailor uses standard VAST and VMAP responses from ad servers to pull down a high-quality version of the ad asset and provisions real-time transcoding and packaging resources to format it to the same video and audio parameters as your content.

Is AWS Elemental MediaTailor a standalone service or is it dependent on other services?

AWS Elemental MediaTailor can function as a standalone service or within a larger video workflow that includes other AWS Media Services. AWS Media Services are a family of services that form the foundation of cloud-based video workflows, which offer customers the capabilities they need to create, package, and deliver video, all accessible through the AWS Management Console. Working together with other AWS services, AWS Media Services offer a complete solution for processing and delivery of live or on-demand video content to consumers around the world, cost efficiently and with high quality.

Can I use AWS Elemental MediaTailor with on-premises deployments?

AWS Elemental MediaTailor's manifest manipulation and other features run in AWS, but can access any origin server hosted on-premises and accesible over HTTP. AWS Elemental MediaTailor itself is an AWS Cloud service.

Can I use my own CDN with AWS Elemental MediaTailor?

Yes, AWS Elemental MediaTailor is CDN agnostic. Ad insertion and Channel Assembly can work with multiple CDNs, either through direct integration or via Amazon CloudFront’s Origin Shield.

Can I use my own origin server for AWS Elemental MediaTailor?

Yes, AWS Elemental MediaTailor ad insertion works with origin servers that are accessible over HTTP and can produce manifests decorated with CUE-IN and CUE-OUT ad markers. Channel Assembly can work with 3rd party source locations, as long as they are leveraging a supported authentication scheme and are generating DASH and HLS manifests that include the expected tags and markers. Visit AWS Elemental MediaTailor Documentation pages for more information.

How is AWS Elemental MediaTailor billed?

Pricing for AWS Elemental MediaTailor ad insertion is based on the number of ads inserted. For example, if 1000 people are viewing a stream and there are 5 ads in an ad break, you would be charged for 5000 ad insertions. 10 free ad creative transcodes are included per 1000 ad insertions. MediaTailor Channel Assembly costs are based on the number of hours the channel is active. Visit the AWS Elemental MediaTailor Pricing page for more information.

Is the there a minimum or maximum number of channels required to use AWS Elemental MediaTailor?

There is no minimum or limit to the number of channels supported by AWS Elemental MediaTailor. Pricing is pay as you go, with no minimum commitment, so there is no penalty of running just one channel. Equally, if there are hundreds of channels or channels with huge expected peaks in concurrent views, AWS Elemental MediaTailor will automatically scale.